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10 Steps to Being the ONE Who Gets the Offer: Avoid “Bland Brand”

Day 102/365 by markgranitz on Flickr

Most people don’t get the job. Only one. How do you set yourself up to be that one from the get-go?

It’s your brand. This isn’t just a buzzword, and it’s not something created out of thin air. In fact, you have one whether you are intentional about it or not. Only, if you haven’t been intentional (which is the “I” in EPIC,) it may not be a brand that positions you for what you want, and it might not be noticed by people in a position to give it to you.

Getting it noticed is a step ahead, step 3, though. Let’s just focus now on what you need to ask in order to assess your current brand, which is really how people think of you. Then you can bridge the gaps to include what people really need to understand in order to see that you are special, deserving, and ready for the next step.

[To go back a bit, Step 1 is Focus – I covered that in a video I shared recently, but it’s no longer available.]

Step 2 to landing your dream job is Branding. For job seekers, this means taking that focus on what you want to do most and who you want to do it for, and understanding what your ideal employer needs to know about you to help them quickly determine that you are a person of extreme interest and unique value.

A powerful brand creates a sense of urgency, because if a hiring manager sees your value, so will someone else, and that means that you could be an asset to the competition any day now. That’s a double loss to a company!

The average résumé and LinkedIn profile describe functional duties – what you were responsible for or in charge of doing and what your day-to-day, weekly and monthly duties were.

Do you think presenting yourself as average will attract the attention of your dream employer?

For that matter, will you attract the attention of any employer? Only if that employer is okay with average employees. What kind of job security can a company with average employees offer you? Will you be satisfied working with average people who produce average results? You may, and to each his or her own. My clients would not be, but that’s why they choose to work with Epic Careering. If you aren’t striving for Epic, you aren’t a potential client. This post could still help you, because even if you want an average job, you still need to land it, and you still need to be slightly better than average – otherwise, how is an employer to choose? I can just see them doing eenie meenie minie moe with résumés now.

(By the way, and this may seem obvious, so forgive me, but in order to be seen as an attractive candidate, you first have to be seen. Don’t depend on online applications for this, but again, that’s step 3.)

A. In order to assess your current brand, it’s best to ask others who know you well: What kind of reputation do you think I have?

When people give you generic answers, such as, “You’re a team player,” or “you are results-focused,” get them to be more specific. For example, when it comes to results, ask them to define the kinds of results that you generate, or how they can tell you are focused on results. If they praise you on your ability to work with a team, ask them what they think makes you good at working with a team. These are a couple examples of where and how to dig deeper, but the kinds of responses you might get are limitless. The key is to keep honing in on your UNIQUE way of being valuable in ways that many, many people are valuable. Don’t settle for answers that most people give, or you will wind up sounding like everyone else. That’s a kind of brand, but not the kind that gets the offer – that’s a bland brand.

B. Now you have to take a look at the kind of people that your ideal company wants to hire. Find a company that meets 80% of your criteria (which were developed in Step 1 – Focus.) How? Pick the most critical of those criteria and determine where companies who meet that criteria can be found.

For instance, if you want your company to offer excellent health benefits, Google “companies that pay 100% health benefits.” This worked for me. You may want to put in your state or city, but even if a company is headquartered in a different location, they still may have subsidiaries or locations near you, or they could have remote positions.

C. Visit their employer page to see what they say about the kinds of talent they attract. The better ones will have employee testimonial videos. You’ll still want to rely on other sources. Go to LinkedIn, search for the company, opt to see the employees on LinkedIn. You can sort by titles that resemble the ones you would want. Check out various profiles to see where else people worked, where they went to school, and what they have achieved at work and in their community. You may even see if those same people are on other social media, like Facebook or Twitter where they may share more candidly and you can find out more about the kinds of personalities the company attracts.

D. Look for trends. Write down what you find. What are the common backgrounds, personalities, and achievements that have enticed this company to hire in the past? Do you feel like you fit in?

That’s a loaded question, since most of us suffer from “imposter syndrome.” Let’s assume that these are people that you think you would like to work with, and therefore you would fit in. It’s generally true that traits we admire in other people are those we possess or strive to possess, and therefore are authentically us. We just need some evidence.

E. Take the list of common backgrounds, personality traits, and achievements and put them in a T-table so you can compare with what you possess. Keep in mind that you may have to look outside your previous work experience to find evidence, since we don’t always get the chance to express or apply our innate strengths on the job, or we do and it’s not appreciated. If we’re going for EPIC, we’re assuming that your strengths, talents, and personality will be embraced and leveraged. That’s what makes you feel ALIVE at work. [Let’s also assume that you’re well compensated for them.]

F. Here is where we get more specific and start to build your brand case. The achievements, education, and skills are the more tactile to compare. However, when it comes to personality traits, it may be more challenging. Asking for assistance from those who know you well can really help speed this process along, as vulnerable as it might make you feel. You need to discern what your unique way of demonstrating these qualities has been.

G. Once you have all of the data, synthesize it, and distill it into 4-6 branding points – no more/no less. You need a solid foundation on which to build your content, and you want to make sure you can be clear and consistent across your résumé, LinkedIn profile, biography or any other media you might use to share your brand.

H. Put them into priority based on for what you want to be appreciated most.

I. Each branding point needs a story to prove it. The higher priority branding points need to be proven more frequently, and more recently.

J. Use the following formula to flesh out all the details of your story

> Situation (the conditions that existed that necessitated a change)

> Challenge(s)

> People impacted and the impact (pre-solution)

> Decision made

> Action taken

> Skills, talents applied

> tools used

> people involved

> results (in measurable terms whenever possible)

> impact (how that trickled down to other people)

K. Take the most impressive components of each story and build a bullet, starting with an action verb, that highlights them for your résumé. You may not accommodate each part of the story for résumé bullets, but you can save that back-story for your LinkedIn profile, helping you create a completely complimentary brand story between the media.

If these steps have already overwhelmed you, and you feel that in the time that you would take to complete all of these steps you could have made good money, do what highly successful people do and leverage other people’s expertise and time.

Engage us and we will:

  • Ask all the pertinent questions
  • Understand your target employer’s hiring criteria
  • Ensure that your new brand resonates with them and creates a sense of urgency
  • Get granular and specific about which makes you unique
  • Synthesize and distill all of your qualities and experience into 4-6 branding points
  • Write your summary to distinguish you among any other equally or more qualified candidates
  • Compose branded bullets that PROVE you are a MUST-CALL candidate
  • Craft complimentary content that presents a clear, consistent and compelling story that inspires action

 

If you like these steps, consider yourself a talented writer, and love the do-it-yourself model, I recommend investing in our very fun bullet builder, summary builder, LinkedIn profile builder and our proven template: http://epiccareering.com/diy-content-builder/. These put all the creation in your hands without the guesswork that can lead to costly (time and $$) trial and error.

The Smiths How Soon Is Now?

Album: Hatful of Hollow / Year: 1984 / Written by Morrisey and Johnny Marr / Produced by John Porter Lyrics: I am the son and the heir Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar I am the son and heir Of nothing in particular You shut your mouth How can you say I go about things the wrong way?

60 Minutes to a LinkedIn Profile That Gets You Interviews

Passe partout by Wies Van Erp of Flickr

Passe partout by Wies Van Erp of Flickr

You are ready to land your next job, you know what you want from your next employer, and your résumé is polished to a shine. Before you venture out, or continue your great job seeking adventure, take a moment to review your LinkedIn profile. Are you getting the results you want? Do you receive messages from recruiters, and introductions to VIPs? Or has you inbox been quiet?  By now, I am assuming you know the importance of having a LinkedIn profile if you are job-seeking.

According to the 2014 Jobvite survey, over 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn when searching for job candidates. In part of an interview for my Philadelphia Magazine article, Jennifer Ghazzouli, QVC Director of Global Talent revealed that her hiring staff heavily relies on LinkedIn to discover talent. Given the heavy emphasis on LinkedIn by hiring managers, a powerfully-branded profile puts a wide gap between you and your competitors for jobs. Evaluate your LinkedIn profile again. If you have not been seeing the great results you want in your job search, it may be time to overhaul your profile.

In her Muse article, “How to Get Your LinkedIn Profile Ready for Your Job Search in 30 Minutes” Jenny Foss created a fantastic LinkedIn profile creation guide. Having your profile up and running is a great first step. However, if you want recruiters to call you first and excitedly invite you to an interview, then take another 30 minutes to further customize your content for your target audience.

Here is how to get your LinkedIn profile up and running and ready to attract employers. (A quick note: If you need further help with creating your LinkedIn profile, we have the tools to help. Our LinkedIn Profile Builder will guide you through creating a powerfully-branded profile that enables you to land twice as fast.)

 

Change your headline

The LinkedIn headline is automatically created when you enter your job title.  A customized headline grabs the attention of employers, recruiters, and anyone else who views your profile. An effective headline depicts the function, or role of your job, instead of the title. A job title is the name of position, while a function explains your daily tasks and activities for a position. A great headline helps employers see how you will fit into their company. In my article, “Increase Views: Ditch the Default LinkedIn Headline” I go into depth on how to create an attention-grabbing headline.

 

Use the summary section to shine

Far too many people use LinkedIn’s summary section to create a carbon copy of their résumé, when it is so much more. An effective summary tells the audience your story and is an opportunity to brand yourself. You have 2000 characters to illustrate your professional life and to sell your value to potential employers. A good headline hooks an employer, but your summary is what reels them in. The summary is also an area where keywords are listed to attract employers. Employers and recruiters often use keywords to search for talent. By including keywords relevant to your industry, it makes you easier to be found. That said, it is possible to use keywords incorrectly.

Also avoid using clichés in your summary, as these words are uninteresting and overused. Are any of these 10 words found within your summary? These words are so common that they mean very little to recruiters who read them day in and day out. Anyone can list them, but those who can prove they have these qualities are the ones who obtain the interview, or land the job. Any time you find yourself wanting to write one of these words, or any subjective adjective, ask yourself, “How would I prove this, and how do these words translate into value for an employer?” Instead, use more specifics and demonstrate them, rather than stating qualities.

 

Update your skills

Skills are a list of your talents and your hard skills. LinkedIn allows you to list 50 skills. Employers can view them at a glance to see how your qualifications match up with an open position. Additionally, skills are also another way to list keywords and to increase your chances of being found by an employer. Place the skills most vital to your position at the top of the list. Once you have your vital skills listed first, politely ask your connections to endorse your skills. Remember to also do the same for them.

 

Fill in the small details

The visual aspects of your LinkedIn profile have a big impact on how you are perceived by employers. Did you upload a photo? The lack of a photo is a turn off because employers or recruiters may ask “what are they hiding?” This is especially true for recruiters who want to submit candidates who present themselves professionally to hiring managers. Display your professional image. If you are self-conscious about your appearance for your age, invest in a photo shoot with a professional photographer and a make-up artist who will bring out your best features. If you are on a budget, you can still find a friend willing to donate their time and talent. Man or woman, you can visit make-up counters at department stores. The perception is that if you do not put your best foot forward online, you cannot put your best foot forward at an interview, or on the job.

LinkedIn is a professional social network, so use a professional photo. About Careers has great tips on how to take and choose a professional photo. A few things to keep in mind are that backgrounds should not be distracting. Your wardrobe needs to be business formal, not wedding formal. Lighting is complimentary, not halogen office lighting, or lamp lighting from a party scene. Do not include alcohol, unless you work in the beverage industry.

Also consider adding multimedia to your summary to further stand out from your competition, and to give your accomplishments some visual flair. In addition to talking about your accomplishments, you can provide your audience with specific examples. Such examples could include a picture of yourself in action on the job, slide decks of presentations you have given, video, audio, and your portfolio.

Take a minute to customize your URL. A custom URL is easy to remember and makes it easier to publicize your profile. Update your status once or twice a day with articles relevant to your industry. This shows employers you take a keen interest in your industry and that you are willing to share news and information. Go a step further and list your personal website or blog (unless they are irrelevant to your industry). Also make sure to add all social media profiles (that are of a professional caliber) to your contact information.

 

Action to take after customizing your profile

Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, consider participating in a few activities while using the service. The Social Media Hat contributor Mike Allton has created an extensive free resource that covers the features, benefits, and activities that make a huge difference in your visibility and lead generation on LinkedIn. Also try our 7 Day LinkedIn challenge. Our challenge is a way to identify and research potential employers, to make new connections, and to expand and strengthen your network.

 

Creating and maintaining a powerfully-branded LinkedIn profile increases the chances of landing your next job faster. LinkedIn is the go-to source for the majority of recruiters and employers. Having a profile that illustrates your brand and demonstrates your value allows you to stand out from the job-seeking crowd. If you have started your job search or are in the middle of a job search, updating and polishing your LinkedIn profile is the best way to give your search a boost.